Shhh… today I am sharing you a secret hideout tucked in the back alleyway of Itaewon, Seoul. It is a hidden cafe I pondered over for a long time whether to share it here just because I want to keep this place my secret >.< Hah! I am not a fan of Itaewon when I first moved to Seoul. For your information, Itaewon is considered an “international district” of Seoul, with a mixture of upscale bars and rowdy nightclubs. I am not a club person at all. So during my first few years in Korea, I didn’t bother to explore this area until I was introduced to Cafe Ando.
It is now my best go-to cafe whenever I need quality time with my friends, and an excellent hideout for some alone time. It is strangely a space befitting almost all kinds of dates – with a bigger group of friends, with that special someone, over afternoon tea or evening cocktail, to wine and dessert after dinner or even for proper meal.
Tucked away in the hidden gol-mok (alleyway) of Itaewon, the cafe requires its visitors a little patience to locate. It is hidden humbly at the end of a steep staircase off the main road – the kind of location you won’t even noticed unless given a tip-off. Behind the black metal door was a huge private garden with open terrace. I love having brunch at their outdoor terrace when the weather is fine.
The interior was a brilliant combination of industrial and traditional design. I love the wooden flooring, the rustic colonial settings and how the metal furniture, decorations and exposed bricks adding a nice industrial touch to the interior.
The cafe offers a wide variety of drinks, ranging from alcoholic drinks like beer, cocktails and wine to alcohol-free beverages like mocktail, juices and coffee. Having tried their red and white wine, gin & tonic and coffee, I would say their drinks are pretty decent, generally a 6-7/10 and above if you want a rating. After all, it is the variety that makes every trip down to Ando so enjoyable.
My brunch companion got herself an Iced Latte, and I took a sip of it. Personally I think it was a little too milky for my liking. I understand milk is what makes up a latte but it tasted mostly like milk with weak espresso lingering in the background. I once ordered their Americano, and it turned out great. It was smooth, velvety, full bodied but balanced, exactly how I like my coffee to be.
I have only dined in once at Ando. However, the pizza we ordered during the brunch date was only mediocre. It has a wonderful thin crust, slightly smokey and crisp as you can see from the pictures, but the toppings were a little weird. I did not truly enjoy the pizza, but I love the atmosphere and the relaxing jazz music in the background. It is a pity I only dined there once, and the rest of my visits were either in the afternoon or after dinner at elsewhere. I hope I can try out other dishes there soon. The salad and pasta from other tables looked great.
Ando Chocolate Brownie is my favourite dessert at the cafe. I love the combination of yogurt whipped cream with the sinful cake – the yogurt makes the cake tastes so much fluffier. Sprinkled with nuts, cranberries and drizzled with chocolate sauce, the soft and squidgy cake is a good dessert to share. I like to pair the brownie with some red wine.
Ando Tiramisu. The generous sprinkling of cocoa powder made it a visually seductive tiramisu. However, the chef seemed to overlook the amount of brandy in the crust. There’s no single trace of alcohol in it, which is quite a disappointment. Perhaps it was the lacking of alcohol makes the dish plain and uninteresting. It is such a waste since the mascarpone cheese topping was nicely textured. I still prefer the Tiramisu at Tutto Bene.
The atmosphere of the cafe turns helplessly romantic at night. I love having wine here with my friends and loved ones after dinner.
Much to my surprise, Ando also operates as a guesthouse. Their newly renovated and tastefully styled rooms, pantry and even the shower room is so Instagram-worthy it is an awesome space every hipster traveller would dream of. I look forward someday I will be able to spend a night or two there, and tell you my experience with Ando Stay 101. It seems positive judging from the pictures on Airbnb.
House in 서울특별시, South Korea. It is an ANDO STAY 101 ITAEWON linked with CAFÉ ANDO. Clean environment and sensory interior can be found from recent remodeling. Very close to CAFÉ ANDO that any necessities can be fulfilled easily. ANDO STAY 101 ITAEWON is located in the center… View all listings in 서울특별시
Writer’s Note: Truly a hidden urban oasis in Seoul. It is a good brunch spot in downtown Seoul with a nice blend of home tranquility and city cosmopolitan. I would recommend the place for a group gathering, date night or even a post-dinner-chill-out session. For those who are interested in staying in the guesthouse, I would say it is not heavy-luggage friendly. This could be a nice find if you’re going to stay in Seoul just for a couple of days without heavy baggage.
카페 안도 Cafe Ando
서울특별시 용산구 한남동 736-8
736-8 Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
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